How to Get Over a Fictional Death

In life and in fiction, death is inevitable. Having people say, “But they’re no real,” doesn’t make the death of Dobby or Rue or the Starks any less traumatic.

We’ve come up with some steps to help you get through it.

1. Breathe. Have some tissues.

2. Accept they’re dead.

Don’t deny it. Denial is a stage of grief, but it’s one best conquered quickly. Only very rarely do beloved characters come back from the dead–and if they do, they won’t be the same as you remember.

The choice to kill off a character is a hard one for authors, so you should expect characters who die to stay dead–unless explicitly stated otherwise.

You might consider buying this shirt...

You might consider buying this shirt…

3. Don’t be afraid to cry. Or be angry.

Realize it’s totally normal to grieve over a fictional character. You invested time and emotions into their story before the author ripped out your heart and raked it against a cheese grater. Other people may not understand, but we do. We’ve been there.

Have some chocolate and soothe your wounded soul. It’s time to start recovering.

4. Reread parts of the book/comic/graphic novel where the character is happy.

It’ll help you remember that those happy moments don’t go away just because they’re dead. The happy times will always be waiting for you, pressed between the pages.

5. Get online and talk to people who feel the same way.

Message boards, Twitter hashtags, fanfic sites will all share your pain. Maybe read some fanfiction where the character isn’t dead–or write your own. Some people go so far as to cross out the death scene in their book and rewrite it so the death never occurred, but that comes a little close to denial for us.

6. Look at the bigger picture.

Odds are, their death happened for a reason. Look at the other characters, the plot, the themes. Find the essence of the story and pin down why your favorite character died.

7. Remember, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

Remember, they are your favorite character for a reason. Don’t be burned by them. Don’t be afraid to get attached to new characters. Give yourself time to grieve, and find a new story to invest in.